The summer of 2023 was a lost summer for AB InBev in the US. The global brewer and local market leader has seen its sales decline since April. Especially AB InBev’s hangover-helping Mexican beer Modelo Special. Since mid-August, the Mexican lager has been the new number one in the US, and it’s actually AB InBev’s beer.
“Very sad story. New normal sales are declining. Pump Williams describes the position of market leader Anheuser-Busch in the United States, a subsidiary of AB InBev. He is CEO of Pump Williams Consulting, which measures in-store sales on a weekly basis using data from liquor specialist Nielsen IQ. Retail accounts for four-fifths of beer consumption in the United States, with the catering sector accounting for the remaining 20 percent.
Anheuser-Busch’s sales continue to lag. On April 1st, a transgender influencer’s video appeared on Instagram with nearly 2 million followers. Dylan Mulvaney, a boy-turned-girl, celebrated his first birthday as a girl. The video featured Mulvaney on Bud Light cans. The brand wanted to congratulate the transgender woman for reaching a “personal milestone” of her first birthday as a woman. Dylan Mulvaney has 10.7 million followers on TikTok.
Since then, sales of Anheuser-Busch’s beers in the U.S. have been banned. Bud Light has been the local market leader for years, comparable to Jubiler in Belgium – an average lager and positioned as a niche brand. Bud Light is a middle-class beer brand in the United States. A transgender video upset many of those consumers. Bud Light as a brand is no longer authentic and reliable.
Bud Light’s Lost Summer
The latest statistics for the week of August 19 to Saturday (See table), showing that the Anheuser-Busch brands are at the lowest sales level. Perhaps the only good news is that they haven’t fallen further. But there is no question of positive change. 2023 could be considered a lost summer in Anheuser-Busch’s books. “Between Memorial Day (May 29) and Labor Day (September 4), 40 to 50 percent of annual beer consumption is consumed,” asserts Pump Williams.
Notably, the strong growth of the Coors Light and Miller Lite brands of Molson Coors, the second largest brewer, has weakened slightly. Especially the Mexican brand Modelo Special is accelerating its growth. Pump Williams also notes how beer is taking up more space on store shelves. Retailers are looking to further benefit from the growing success of Mexican lager. The Modelo Speciale number three belongs to Constellation Brands. Mexican beer is brewed at two breweries in Nava, Mexico and Obregon, Mexico, and imported into the United States.
The new king of beers
Modelo Especial is actually a brand of Mexican market leader Grupo Modelo, a subsidiary of AB InBev. But US competition authorities forced AB InBev to sell its Mexican import operations in 2013, fearing the global brewer would gain too much dominance in the US. Constellation Brands acquired the rights to permanently import Grupo Modelo beers into the United States.
Mexican beer Modelo Especial is leading the turnover market after a flurry in early April. The brand has been doing this every week since May. According to the latest figures, the Modelo Speciale has been the market leader for the entire period from the beginning of this year to August 19. The Modelo Special’s market share rose to 8.4 percent of turnover, compared to Bud Light’s 8.2 percent. This made the Mexican brand the new ‘King of Beers’, which Anheuser-Busch has been associated with for decades, with Bud Light as the market leader.
In terms of volume, Bud Light tops the market with 9.9 percent and Modelo Speciale with 7 percent market share. Bud Light was launched in 1982. The brand became an absolute success for Anheuser-Busch. The brewer’s market share in the United States rose from 30 percent when it was launched in 1982 to 44.5 percent in the late 1980s. Until the Dylan Mulvaney affair, Anheuser-Busch still had a 40 percent market share. Bud Light was the best-selling beer in the United States from 2001 until this spring.
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